Rethinking work for sustainability and justice

By Erik Gomez-Baggethun

Work time reduction is one of the central policy proposals brought forward by ecological economists and degrowth scholars to reduce environmental pressure and unemployment and enhance human well-being. In its broader meaning, work is defined as an activity involving mental or physical effort done to achieve a purpose or result. In economic and policy debates, however, the dominant notion of ‘work’ has acquired a much narrower meaning. It does not extend to cover the activities required for the reproduction of life such as caring and housekeeping, neither the broader set of things we do on our own initiative without expecting remuneration. The dominant conception of work remains confined to the set of activities formally recognized by society as worthy of remuneration. For most people in Western capitalist countries, work is still understood as wage labour, and weekly working times of around 40 hours have come to be perceived as an almost natural configuration of time.

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Food transformations and (un)sustainable diets: Taking consumption seriously in development research

By Arve Hansen

The world is in dire need of more sustainable and healthy food systems. The development field has much to say on the topic but has historically had a clear focus on either food supply or food deprivation. The potential benefits and positive spill-over effects of eating healthier and more sustainably have, however, led to increasing and wider attention to the demand side of food. Recent research suggests that the sustainability potential of dietary change is considerably larger than that of improving production. If we could just change what people eat, and at the same time avoid some of the ongoing nutrition transitions in low- and middle-income countries, it would have a massive ripple effect in entire food systems.

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The Legitimacy of Sustainability Initiatives in Tanzania 

By Rasul Ahmed Minja

One of the chief concerns of new sustainability initiatives for managing natural resources and involving public and private actors is to build and retain legitimacy among different audiences and stakeholders, legitimacy understood as the ‘process where partnerships gain recognition and become accepted as a relevant alternative or supplement to government policy on a particular issue’. But how can we better understand the legitimacy of sustainability partnerships from the perspective of local communities? Or, more precisely, how do different sustainability partnerships develop, gain (or fail to gain), and manage legitimacy in local communities? What kinds of legitimacy do they seek and how? And which paths for building and maintaining legitimacy yield what kinds of perceived conservation and socio-economic outcomes?

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